Monday, March 28, 2011

How to Close Deals With No Credit

Are you looking for more revenues for your internet business? Tired of all the web page statistics showing how many people abandoned your checkout page without a purchase?

If you’re one of the many internet businesses feeling this pain….then I have a solution for you!

Let’s start by figuring out why so many people don’t complete their on-line purchases. There are a couple of main reasons….

Price….Many people, like it or not, use the internet to comparison shop. They’ll “Google” a product before going to a local store to set a price point for the item. Once they get the price point they’re willing to pay, many consumers will then continue their shopping, searching for the lowest price…period. These consumers might return and make a purchase, they might not. These are the hardest abandons to close. Your only tool against these customers is simple…..keep your price competitive!

Trust….if you’re a digital merchant selling through sites like Amazon, pay close attention to your ratings. Email follow ups to consumers who’ve recently purchased your product, asking for a recommendation, are an absolute necessity. Make this a priority. Good reviews help increase your rating as a merchant and increase sales. Every Customer wants to think they made a good decision, and buying from a merchant others have trusted reinforces this emotion.

Payment methods…this is an important one.

Does your checkout page contain purchase options other than credit card or check? If not, you need to add them. Consider adding Paypal. Paypal can be set up quickly on-line and allows consumers a safe alternative to revealing their credit card information. Paypal helps to eliminate payment security concerns for many consumers. However, even if you add Paypal, there is still a sizable group of consumers who for a multitude of reasons, simply will not make a credit card purchase on line.

This could be caused by identity theft concerns, credit limit issues, lack of a credit or debit card, or a simple aversion to using any type of recurring credit. Problem is, this group of people can represent up to 20% of your potential customers who do not have access to traditional credit ( )

So, how do you make sure you have a purchase option available to 1 out of every 5 potential customers? By adding a “Bill to Phone” option.

Landline phone billing for digital goods has been around for many years and has developed a mixed reputation because of some past fraud from some of the merchants. While this was a troubling trend in the past, the local phone companies (like Verizon, CenturyLink, and AT&T) and the billing clearinghouses (like ILD Teleservices) have worked hard to clean this payment method up to the point that it is now a truly valuable asset to add to your online business. Merchants will go through a stringent approval process before the OK is given to begin Local Exchange Billing (more commonly referred to as “LEC Billing”) with the phone companies.

The rapidly growing mobile phone market has added yet another curve to the phone billing market. Early returns a couple years ago using “Premium Short Message Service” or otherwise known as “PSMS” billing methods had mixed results for merchants.  The merchant would ask the consumer to enter their cell number on the checkout page and then the consumer would receive a text message which, if accepted, would automatically add a predetermined $ amount to the cell bill.  The consumer would then receive a code to enter on the checkout page to complete their transaction.  As the wireless companies kept a sizable portion of the sale, the returns were poor, representing typically less than 50% of each dollar being passed through to the merchant. The PSMS method did increase closed sales, but because the returns were so low, it wasn’t fully accepted as a truly viable option.  If you're still utilizing this method at your company....keep reading.

Today, the brand new concept of direct “Mobile Carrier Billing” allows merchant to place a product directly onto a potential customer’s cellular invoice and list the merchants name on the bill, reducing chargebacks and adjustments. Returns have improved to match or even exceed the returns realized through landline phone billing and provide a valuable tool to help e-merchants close the sale with that “1 out of 5” consumer who doesn’t have access to traditional credit. E-merchants will typically see a 20% “lift” in sales when they implement a bill to phone campaign, utilizing both landline and cellular billing. “Direct Mobile Carrier Billing” can be set up and approvals received to start billing as quickly as 3 weeks, meaning within a month, you could be closing sales with the group of “1 out of every 5” consumers that you cannot sell to today!

If you are interested in learning more about adding a “Bill to Phone” program to supplement your current e-merchant business payment options, contact me @davehanron on Twitter or via e-mail at My company has processed in excess of 1 billion phone billing transactions and can help your business gain access to this growing market.

I’d enjoy hearing any experience you may have had in the e-merchant sales world, good or bad…..after all, we can all learn something new each day……

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Measure of ROI on Social Media

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about “Social Media” through sites like Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Yelp, Linkedin, etc, etc. Busineses know they need to embrace the craze but how do they justify the cost of hiring a company to outsource their on-line strategy?

In the past, traditional options like an advertising agency were used. They had their place in time, just like the typewriter. Ad agencies were great for the task but technology has passed that concept by. Print media, radio media, and TV media are expensive these days, limiting the number of companies utilizing those old school methods to the big boys. Just think about it…a 30 second ad at the Superbowl this year cost a whopping $3 million! Wow!

Today’s information age has opened the door to opportunity by utilizing the internet and taking advantage of today’s growing social media craze. Businesses have the opportunity to cast their brand over a vast viewer market in seconds, if their campaigns are managed correctly.

Problem is many businesses don’t know how to measure the return on their social media investment. My view on that is simple. Ask yourself how much is an interested customer worth to your business? Basically, this is your average gross revenues derived from 1 sale multiplied by your “close” ratio.

In other words, if your company sells widgets, and the price of a widget is $1,000, then the value of an interested prospect is $1,000 ÷ the number of prospects required to make 1 sale. If it takes you five prospects to close one sale, ROI is $200. ($1,000/5 prospects = $200).

Now that we have the formula on the table, let’s apply it to real life business. If you open a Facebook account for your business and obtain 100 "likes" of the business in the first month, based on our previous formula, the ROI on your first month's effort would be $20,000!

Of course, from this the production cost of the widget, and the cost of your sales staff's efforts must be deducted, still leaving a hefty profit!

Let’s work through the numbers …..100 “Likes” means 100 interested prospects. If it takes 5 prospects to get 1 sale, the 100 “likes” should equal 20 sales. 20 sales x the average value of a sale ($1,000) equals $20,000!

This formula works equally well across Twitter, Yelp, Digg, etc. So it’s pretty simple to see the ROI available by simply putting some effort into building a social media presence. The companies that do will flourish; those that do not will go the way of yesterday’s typewriter……

To learn more on how to take advantage of the programs available to help develop your social media presence, please contact me at or on Twitter @davehanron.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Does Twitter scare Google?

For more than a decade, Google has held the unofficial title of search engine “king”.

When friends are sitting around the table, discussing virtually any current or past subject, almost universally people have different opinions or memories on the topic. I’m sure you’ve heard or maybe even used the catch word phrase “let’s Google it?”. I have.

Just recently, I’ve begun to hear a few people start saying they don’t “Google” any more, they “Bing”. Now most of the “Bing” talk has arisen from the influx of smart phones using Windows Mobile as an operating system. Windows Mobile comes with Bing as it’s default search engine. That, coupled with the fact that Windows Internet Explorer now comes with Bing as default, all seems to be targeting Google’s dominance.

Where does Twitter search come in? By sheer volumes, Twitter search doesn’t seem to be much of a danger to Google’s position at the top. However, with the hunger of today’s social media explosion trending towards the need for real time updates, Twitter seems to have several advantages over Google.

Here are a couple examples why I feel Twitter search may be gaining an edge.  Twitter gives instant access to the current chatter on a given subject. I took the liberty of Twitter searching Japan this morning and the results seemed endless, just within the last 5 minutes of “tweets”. It gives personal experiences and opinions that many of us prefer reading over yesterday’s stale news.

A second advantage of Twitter is it can be used in real life. I saw an example on the evening news yesterday of how people are using Twitter to create “Tweetups”. A “Tweetup is defined by Wiktionary as a “real life meet up of two or more people using the social media site Twitter” ( ). Gretchen Kinder (Twitter name Clownface3) met up with Trish Fontanilla (Twitter name TrishoftheTrade) for the first time and their friendship never missed a beat. They had been following each other on Twitter and exchanged tweets daily. It seemed to both of them they'd known each other for years.

Another great example was last night….I was watching Fox 25 news in Boston when anchorwoman Sara Underwood did a feature on the Japan earthquake and was able to contact a US citizen in Japan, (whom she located via Facebook; she could have used Twitter just as easily), then connect to him for an interview over Skype. How times are changing! This illustrates today’s move towards the use of real time chatter and makes me believe Twitter search may yet pose a threat to Google. Only time will tell……

As always, I enjoy hearing your thoughts on this and l hope to see many comments on this one!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Social Media.....Hype or Money Maker?

Social Media….I’m guessing you’ve heard of it? If not, you wouldn’t be reading this post.

Today’s information explosion is growing exponentially, fueled by sites like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Digg, MySpace, YouTube, Flicker, and thousands more. Sure, we all enjoy using them, but are they really a way for businesses or individuals to capitalize on the growth and actually earn some income?

I’m going to spend a little time and give my take on the trends.

People typically begin slow in the social media world, usually by opening a Facebook account because one of their friends has told them it’s the trendy thing to do. Some people start with a Twitter account. It really doesn’t matter.

If you’re looking to get return on your investment (ROI) you need to start by building your social “Brand”. How do you accomplish this? You’ve already started by opening your personal gateway to the social environment by using Facebook and/or Twitter.

Next step is to gain followers or friends. How do you do that? It takes a bit of effort but everyone can do it…start “tweeting” on your Twitter account. You can either write your own comments or “re-tweet” someone else’s. You can also “tweet” an interesting article that you find. I think the best approach is a combination of the 3. Be creative. Add picture to your tweets, using free app’s like YFrog or Twitpic. Remember, people like to read interesting stuff and you’re competing with millions of others for their time. Get to know your audience.

Once you successfully accumulated a following, keep expanding it by adding other means of communication to your social toolbox by creating a personal or professional blog. The Huffington Post is today’s #1 rated blog (Technorati research The Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) has more than 800,000 followers on Twitter. While this may not be the biggest Twitter following (according to TwitterStats, that would be Lady Gaga with more than 8,400,000 followers ), it has led them to being the most viewed blog on the internet.

Now that you have your blog, begin posting it on Twitter and Facebook to gain even more exposure to your brand. The more exposure your brand gets, the easier it becomes to monetize it. Think of the Dunkin Donuts “Keep it Coolatta” social campaign…..

The campaign incented the public to snap pictures of themselves and post them on the Dunnkin Donut Fan Wall on Facebook to win prizes including air conditioners, Jet Blue vouchers, Flat screen TV’s and more.

The reaction was fantastic and generated more than 20,000 additional followers for Dunkin Brands.

There are lots of companies out there today who are looking for heavy traffic “brands” where they can place advertisements for their merchants’ products. By partnering with one of these firms, you can start monetizing your brands and get your ROI flowing. To find some of these companies, simply Google or Bing “digital advertising affiliate programs” and you’ll find dozens of them.

Do your research, pick one, and you’re on your way to increased ROI…….all through today’s information explosion of social media.

To learn more on how to use social media to grow your business, contact me at or @davehanron on Twitter